Monday 25th June. Self-Reflection Session - Discussing recent guest talks.

We met at a park by the canal in Clapton. Claire, Robbie, Gwen, Gabriel, Alex and Louise attended. We had a picnic (quiche, crisps, beetroot ice cream by claire and unidentified culinary experiment no1 by Louise) and played with the football a bit. We then went through each of the visitors talks that have taken place this year: Glenn Adamson Curator/Academic (talking about his postmodernism exhibition at the V&A), Michael Archer (art critic and head of goldsmiths ba), Jo Lathwood (artist), Rebecca Birch (artist) and Simon Callery (artist).

Points that came up:
postmodernism as a move away from individual authorship
the demystification of the fabricating process on Glenn Adamson's blog (showing technicians and processes etc) and his writing on the importance of craft.
Can conceptualism be a craft? - or does it have to be something done directly with ones hands?
Does craft offer a means by which to counteract the 'alienation' that Marx associates with advanced capitalism? Could a conceptual artist or someone who organises others as part of their practice not also be avoiding alienation in the same way, or perhaps even more so because the result of the craft is not then reified into a commodity form?
Craft and labour are fundamental to Simon Callery's work - as a rebellion against 90s shock art perhaps, but also as a way of accentuating the physicality and experiential nature of painting as opposed to the spectacular image-orientated focus of much painting and the media. Painting as slowness in a fast world.
Hal Foster said there were 2 kinds of postmodernism - Ludic and Oppositional. For more info see here. Ludic po'mo' mixes up styles and is aesthetically radical but allows this to be appropriated into the status quo as a product (Robbie gives the example of Ai Wei Wei's coca-cola vase - a fusion of 2 valuable commodity forms that are made more valuable by being assimilated in this way). Robbie feels that oppositional postmodern currents were overlooked in the show - e.g. one of Derek Jarman's radical films was shown, but was totally out of context and there was a lack of information on the political implications. Generally we felt that the  postmodernism show was primarily about style and design rather than about the broader context - although this makes sense as the V&A is a design museum.
Michael Archer's talk highlighted that most art schools are still being run by artists who were part of conceptualism, so the new work coming out of art schools is percolated through conceptualist ways of thinking, and that when they retire the whole culture of these schools will change as a result.
Michael Archer seemed to be critical of theory for theory's sake and pointed out that in an art educational context in particular you can't expect every student to be aware of all the references they are touching upon - if someone borrows a soundtrack from something should it not be able to stand on its own as an aesthetic experience in the moment rather than always be harking back to cultural or art historial themes?
Jo Lathwood's talk was very generous in terms of her practical advice about how to apply for residencies. We were excited by the commitment she has made to making her practice her job and the integrity in her work and the way she talks about it. Play, research and practicality are as important as intellectual /theoretical frameworks. We were also interested in the importance of materials as the backbone of her practice, even though this often leads to quite conceptual work.
Rebecca Birch's work interested many of us because of the way that her time spent with other artists or publics became an art experience in its own right, and we were particularly interested in what happened when the frameworks she had devised went off-track - e.g. when a road trip turned into a traffic jame but then how footage was shot as a result of this situation. Her work resonates with a lot of us. We noted how her film work is very different from her research trips and relational/situational works. We noticed that in some areas of her work is is very indirect and presented (as a prepared talk or very slick video), and in others very natural and intimate (as loosely structured road trip or platform for creative exchange).